Last updated on May 20th, 2024.

Today we are making Creme Legere, pastry cream lightened with whipped cream for the ultimate filling and topping for all of your favorite desserts. It’s perfect to fill your cream puffs with or top your cherry galette with.

Creme legere in a cup with a spoon

What is Crème Légère and why you’ll love it

La crème légère is French to light cream, or pastry cream, or Crema Pasticierra folded with whipped cream (some may call it whipped pastry cream). The addition of whipped cream imparts a lighter texture to the rich and dense crème pâtissière while also expanding its volume, allowing you to generously fill your desserts without overpowering them. But, this light creme is great to be enjoyed by a spoonful, or with some fresh fruit.

 It is great for filling pastries like paté sablée, Tarte Aux Fraises, Chox a la creme, Choux au craquelin, Chocolate Puff Pastry, Cream Donuts, choux buns, Cruffins, and even Cornetti

Be sure to check out my post about Creme Chiboust; meringue lightened Pastry Cream, and Creme Mousseline, buttery pastry cream.

Ingredients

Below are some key ingredients, you can find the full list of ingredients below on the recipe card.

  • Eggs. I tested the recipe with egg yolks and whole eggs and found that whole eggs are the best option since they are rich in proteins that create a stable structure. To learn more about the role of eggs in baking, get a copy of my cookbook, Baking Science.
  • Cake flour (or cornstarch/corn flour). Cake flour will create a stronger, firmer pastry cream, which will still hold its structure after folding in the heavy cream.
  • Vanilla flavor. You can use vanilla pod, bean paste, or vanilla extract (whichever is available at your local grocery store). The vanilla rounds up the creme flavors and gives it a creamy vanilla flavor.
  • Half-and-half. For the pastry cream, you can use whole milk instead. Avoid using skim milk, or heavy cream.
  • Heavy Whipping Cream (or double cream). Whipped to a stiff peak and folded into the creme, use a brand you trust and avoid half-and-half or any imitation. To stabilize the cream, you can use one tablespoon of powdered sugar and brown milk powder. or check out my post about how to stabilize whipped cream. 

Variations

This is the part all home bakers love, you can transform this recipe to endless flavor possibilities, here are some of my favorites:

  • Coffee. Add 1-2 teaspoons of instant coffee, or espresso powder to the half-and-half (it will dissolve as it gets warm).
  • Citrus. Add citrus zest to the half-and-half before bringing it to a boil.
  • Chocolate. Add 1/3 cup (60g) of chopped dark chocolate to the pastry cream when warm, and stir until melted. Alternatively, you can fold some Chocolate Whipped Cream.
ingredients to make lightened pastry cream

How to make Creme Legere

Make pastry cream 

I highly recommend that you read my post about how to make crème pâtissière including step-by-step images, tips, and troubleshooting.

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the cake flour, eggs, and 1/4 cup of the half-and-half. In a medium saucepan pour the rest of the half-and-half, sugar and vanilla.
  2. Bring the half-and-half mixture to a boil, remove from the heat, and pour 4 tablespoons of the warm milk into the egg mixture while stirring.
  3. Place the hot liquids back over the stove, bring to a boil over medium-high heat then drizzle in the egg mixture.
  4. Reduce to low heat and stir constantly until the mixture is thick, or until it reaches 180F. Remove from heat, add the butter, and stir to melt.
  5. Pour the creme patisserie into an airtight container and place a plastic wrap tightly over the surface of the cream, place it in the fridge to cool completely. 
How to make pastry cream

Make Whipped cream

Pour the cream over a cold bowl and whip on low gradually increasing speed to high as you notice that soft peaks form until stiff peaks form.

Whipped cream in a bowl

Fold Whipped Cream 

  1. Remove the creme from the refrigerator and whisk it to loosen it.
  2. Mix in 1/4 cup of the whipped cream.
  3. Fold in the remaining whipped cream using a rubber spatula, use immediately, or refrigerate until used.
folding whipped cream into a cold pastry cream
Creme legere in a bowl with a spatula

Make ahead, store, and Freeze 

The pastry cream is good for up to three days, you can freeze it for up to four weeks. Make the whip cream right before use for the best results. 

​After folding, the creme should be refrigerated for up to 3 days. If frozen, it will lose its stability. 

Expert Tips

  • I highly recommend using a kitchen scale and metric measuring cups when preparing the ingredients. Incorrect measurements might result in too thick, too runny, or curdle creme.
  • It’s best to use room-temperature ingredients.
  • Stay put when making the custard, and make sure to constantly stir all the way to the bottom of the pan to prevent it from burning.
  • Only fold the whipped cream when the pastry cream is completely cooled, otherwise, the cream will melt.
  • The creme is not as stable as buttercream, or chocolate ganache, and you should not use it to cover a cake. You can pipe it but it will not hold a firm shape and will lose some definition within a few hours.
  • In this recipe, the pastry cream to whipped cream ratio is 2:1. You can add more cream, and the more you add the softer the cream is.

FAQ

Why is my creme too thin?

​Either you did not add enough cake flour, or you did not cook it long enough.

What can I use instead of heavy cream?

You can use sour cream, mascarpone cheese, or Crème Fraîche, the same amount of cream. But note that the taste and texture will change. 

Is creme legere the same as crème diplomate?

Both are made by folding whipped cream into pastry cream, but creme diplomate has an addition of gelatin for a more stable structure. So you can consider this recipe as creme diplomate without gelatine.

Can I use crème chantilly ?

Yes, creme chantilly is slightly sweet whipped cream, so if you don’t mind the sweetness it’s ok. 

What is the consistency of the creme?

A very thin whipping cream. The more whipped cream you fold into the pastry cream the thinner the cream is. If you wish to pipe it, use less whipped cream. 

creme legere in a bowl

MORE DESSERTS RECIPES YOU MIGHT ENJOY

Pavlova Cake, Chocolate Tart, Chocolate Drip Cake

Don’t forget to leave a comment and tag me on Instagram when you make one of my recipes.

Creme legere recipe

A blend of pastry cream folded with whipped cream.

Course Dessert
Cuisine European
Keyword creme legere, lightened pastry cream
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 Cup Half-and Half (480ml)
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated sugar (100g)
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla bean (beans from one vanilla pod)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2 Large Egg yolks
  • 3 Tablespoons Cake flour (21g)
  • 1 Tablespoon Unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes (14g)
  • 1 Cup Heavy whipping cream (240ml)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the egg, egg yolks, cornstarch, and 1/4 cup of the half-and-half. Pour the rest of the half-and-half into a medium saucepan, and add the sugar and vanilla.

  2. Bring the liquid mixture to a boil, remove from heat, and slowly drizzle 6 tablespoons into the egg mixture while stirring.

  3. Run the egg mixture through a sieve, and place the remaining liquids over the stove, medium-high heat.

  4. Pour the egg mixture into the simmering liquids and using a wooden spoon, constantly stir until the cream has thickened, or has reached 180F.

  5. Remove from heat, mix in the butter until completely melted, then pour the pastry cream into a bowl and place a plastic wrap over the surface of the cream.

  6. Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate.

  7. Once the pastry cream has completely cooled, whip the heavy cream until it reaches stiff peaks.

  8. Remove the cream from the refrigerator and stir it. Mix in about 1/4 cup of the cream.

  9. Fold the remaining whipped cream using a rubber spatula, and use immeidiately, or refrigerate for up to three days.

Recipe Notes

  • Always use a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients and best of all are at room temperature.
  • The classic ratio of pastry cream to whipped cream is 2:1 but you can add more if you like. The more cream you add the thinner the creme legere is.
  • Only fold the cream when the pastry cream is completely cool.
  • The cream is not as stable as buttercream or ganache, it is great for filling but not so much for covering cakes.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to three days, it will not freeze well.
  • You can use creme fraiche, sour cream, or mascarpone instead of heavy cream but the flavor and texture will change.
  • For flavor variations, check the post content.
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